With INTERTANKO's North American Chairman, Richard du Moulin at the helm, Great American II (GAII), at last contact, was in the South Atlantic Ocean, 1,600 n.m. west of Angola. The total distance traveled is more than 10,380 n.m. This past week has been a trying one du Moulin. However, GAII is in the lead and approximately one day ahead of Sea Witch
, but in order to maintain this lead, the sailors pushed themselves to the limits of exhaustion.
With GAII in the trade winds south of the equator, the prevailing winds come from the southeast. This means that the wind is coming from behind, or astern, of the boat. As a result, the crew has put up the spinnaker, the largest sail on the boat, designed to catch more wind and push Great American II along faster in lighter winds. The drawback to using the spinnaker is that it forces the sailors to hand-steer the boat virtually around the clock-a truly exhausting task. In du Moulin's words, they have to "...steer by hand to keep [the spinnaker] from collapsing. Wind shifts, the waves, and the boat's acceleration and deceleration continuously affect the angle of the wind. Our trusty auto-pilot follows a compass course, not the sail, so we hand steer for much of our watches. This not only tires us out, but it forces us to use our off-watch time to do all maintenance, navigation, communication, cooking, and sleeping."